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LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Symphonies, Z16, Z21, 22, 23, 24
PERFORMER: London Mozart Players/Matthias Bamert
Vaclav (or Wenzel) Pichl (or Pichel) (1741-1805) was a typical musical citizen of the Hapsburg empire: born and trained in Bohemia, he worked as a violinist and conductor in Grosswardein (now Oradea, Romania), Prague, Vienna, Milan (for the Austrian governor of Lombardy) and Vienna again. His large output included, by his own tally, 89 symphonies: three dozen have survived which are definitely his; and five of those have been recorded by Bamert and his London Mozart Players in their continuing series of ‘Contemporaries of Mozart’. The performances are alert and responsive, and generally well recorded (though the timpani in Op.1/3 boom in the church acoustic). They reveal a composer capable of lively, engaging quick movements and tuneful slow movements – that of Op.1/4 with a solo flute part (nicely played by Michael Cox); that of the Symphony called ‘Diana’ (Pichl was quite a classicist) for euphonious muted strings. However, the works chosen are all from the early part of Pichl’s career; a 1994 Olympia Explorer disc, played (with much less finesse) by the Oradea Philharmonic, suggests that some of his later publications are of greater interest and variety. Since Chandos are unlikely to pass the same way again, this seems a missed opportunity. Anthony Burton